The BIG 40!

What a day, what a day! My experiment to determine if I could run 40 miles with 4 weeks of training came to an end yesterday. I had to move up the run by a day due to weather coming into Colorado and thus only had 3 days of recovery after my 30 mile run on Friday but that didn't prove to be an issue whatsoever.

My pre-run breakfast at 7:30am included a chocolate and vanilla (mixed) Generation UCAN with a pinch of cinnamon and my First Endurance Pre-Race (300 milligrams, 4.4 mg/kg body weight). I was out the door running at 8:15am.

I made sure I was armed with appropriate ultra-running attire (as you can see from the photo) and was donning compression shorts, 110% Play Harder compression knickers and socks, along with some fashionable arm and leg sleeves! My best bro was going to meet me to accompany me so I started with the first 5 miles solo to meet up with him at Chatfield State Park. I think he saw me coming from about a mile away with the get up I was wearing!

I was really trying not to start out too fast as I knew pacing would be important to get me through the 40 miles. I did a pretty good job (I think) as my pace did not significantly slow as much as it has in the past (compared to my 30 miler last week).

After meeting my friend, we were off with him on his mountain bike. I was carrying all of my nutrition except water. He took care of that for me and the course I had planned had water opportunities throughout. Due to the weather and conditions of trails, I opted to stay a bit lower in elevation. The weather forecast was supposed to be sunny and about mid 40's to begin the day. That didn't happen. It was cloudy and cool almost the entire run. Great running weather but it did affect my core temperature a bit.

I must say that I really didn't feel much of the first 18 miles. Minute per mile average was between 7:28-9:14 and was engaged in good conversation with my friend. What I also did not feel, or even think about, was my Achilles tendonitis. As I set off on the run, I didn't have to do my normal Achilles check. After my neuromuscular and dynamic warm-ups, I just began running with absolutely ZERO pain in the Achilles. A huge testament to my Hoka shoes! In fact, I didn't feel any observable Achilles pain throughout all 40 miles!

Back to the run...my friend escorted me from mile 5 to 29 on his bike. Our terrain was varied including some pavement, dirt roads and a singletrack trail that followed the South Platte river. Some of the course was a bit dense, as you can see from the photo below. I had a much easier time running through it than did my friend with his mountain bike!
Energy level was extremely consistent. Nutrition totals will follow but I consumed a flask (one packet) of Generation UCAN about every 90-120 minutes. I depended on my body to let me know when it was thirsty and only drank water throughout. I also chewed three pieces of gum (my standard for any run is to chew a piece of gum every 2 hours or so).

After the first loop of 21 miles (done at an average pace of 8:23 min/mile), we arrived back to our "base". My friend was a bit chilly so he put on some extra clothes while I ran around a bit and took the opportunity to consume my first during run dose of First Endurance Pre-Race (160 mg or 2.3mg/kg body weight). I must say, I was feeling like a million bucks. No pains, no major fatigue setting in and was just having a great time. We then headed onto singletrack which slowed my average pace a bit but it was nice being on dirt, following the river. At mile 30, I noticed that I was 10 minutes faster than I was 3 days ago at 30 miles. I still felt strong, although the legs were starting to get a bit more tired. We arrived at "base" again around mile 30 and I took another round of Pre-Race knowing the last 10 were going to be the biggest challenge of the day.

At mile 30, my friend ditched the mountain bike and ran the next 5 miles with me. I have to admit, I was entering my performance zone that I usually get in toward the latter part of an ultra run. This is when I do not feel like talking to anyone, let my mind be quiet and just run. Before I knew it, I was a bit ahead of my friend, clipping off around 8:30-8:40 min/miles. I hit a water stop, waited for my friend then he took off as my rabbit for the last couple of miles. I enjoyed trying to reel him in but didn't get too overzealous as I knew that I would be going solo at mile 35 to finish out the run.

At mile 35, my friend and I parted (he had to go to work), and I continued on the hardest part of the entire run. I would run back to my house and it is a gradual climb of about 500 feet. Doesn't sound like much until you have already put in 35 miles on the legs. Running back up to my house usually takes a bit of mental strategy and focus and I set out the first 2 miles at a faster pace to my only water stop. Once I refreshed with water, I was off to the last 3 miles of climbing. Interestingly, there was no complaint from the Achilles, I was not hypoglycemic, I did not have hyponatremia and I was still able to sing a tune in my head while running. I managed the next mile which included the steepest climb then the last 2 miles to my finish were a mental game for me.

I knew where the finish line was and at this time, I had no pain, was not cold and was actually still enjoying myself. However, I was racing against the clock at this point. I knew I had to make it home in time to shower and pick up my son from school (my priority!). That served as the last bit of motivation I needed to continue running the never ending hills. Once inside my front door, I marched to my bedroom, fell on the floor and closed my eyes for my well-deserved nap. Only problem was that I didn't have time! Ugh! I quickly (okay, it seemed as if I was moving quickly but really wasn't) hopped in and out of the shower, hugged my wife, grabbed the dog and walked the 2k round trip to get my son from school. With only a mild limp in my step, I was actually feeling quite well. Probably the residual effect of the caffeine but I must say that these 40 miles went by fast and without any issues at all!

I pulled it off! Did a 40 mile run with 4 weeks of training, which in fact was probably more like 3 weeks since I was sick for a good week during that prevented me from training. When I first entered endurance racing in 1993, I had no idea what the body was capable of. Even after my six Ironman races, I still had no clue. It wasn't until I stared at the Leadville 100 mile run that I finally knew some (not all) of the limits of the human body but more importantly, how efficient you can make it. I wouldn't recommend anyone getting up and training for a 40 miler with such little time to train but I think I proved some things throughout my journey. You will see some of these by the stats below:

  • 40 mile run
  • Total time: 5 hours and 55 minutes
  • Average pace: 8:52 minute/mile
  • Total calories: 700 (all from Generation UCAN chocolate flavor)
  • Hourly calories: 118
  • Total sodium: 2735 milligrams
  • Hourly sodium: 462 milligrams
  • Total water: 80 ounces
  • Hourly water: 13.5 ounces
  • Total Pre-Race during: 320 milligrams

I was tired after this but 90 minutes after finishing my 40 miler, I went to the Kids that TRI practice and biked for about 8 miles with our older group. Hard at first but it was nice to get the legs moving again. I didn't sleep well at all last night, due to being so "amped" from the caffeine but aside from that and a little quad soreness, I feel fine now, the day after. In fact, I could probably go for a short run if I really wanted to (but I don't so that thought only crossed my mind for a few minutes).

All in all, it was a great day. My experiment with the Hoka One One shoes was a huge success. As you saw throughout the four weeks, my chronic Achilles tendonitis pain significantly decreased from run to run and by the last run, it was almost nonexistent. I'm still trying to put my finger on the theory behind that but for now, I will only use enough brain power that is required to go take a nap.

Next up...not quite sure. You know there will be something! Stay tuned!

Coach Bob